Saturday, April 29, 2006

Kingdom to Kingdom

You know what it's like. There you are sitting in your office on a Wednesday morning, chatting to a colleague on the phone, when all of a sudden your office door opens and in walks the British Ambassador with Jack Straw, The Foreign Secretary. Oh, you don't know what that's like?? Karen does!

The Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw

We knew something was up when we got on the plane at Heathrow. Instead of the usual bmi experience to Riyadh - a mostly empty plane - there were about 50 single passengers, all British, nearly all male, and representing (from their appearance) walks of life such as politician, academic, journalist, and businessman.

They were all heading to Riyadh for the Kingdom to Kingdom Conference: the second running of an annual conference aimed at improving relations between the UK and Saudi Arabia, and this was also the reason for Mr. Straw's presence, as this Daily Telegraph article explains much better than I could.

On this particular Wednesday morning though, The Foreign Secretary was being shown round the Embassy, which was why the rapidly opening office door was accompanied by Sherard saying, "Karen, this is the Foreign Secretary. Would you show him round the Consular Section please?", to which Karen said (to the colleague on the other end of the phone), "I'll call you back!"

That evening we both attended a reception to see off the delegation at the end of the conference. Jack Straw wasn't there but we did also meet Baroness Symons - ex Foreign Office Minister and now the Government's special representative for the Middle East, who when introduced to Karen said, "We've met haven't we." She remembered meeting Karen about a year earlier when she was helping to organize a meeting in London to do with the Middle East peace process.

Baroness Symons

Not bad eh? In one day she meets the Foreign Secretary and is also remembered by another leading politician who had only met her briefly about a year earlier. It won't be long before I'll have to make an appointment to see her! :-)

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